The Inspectorate covers equine welfare problems over a 4000 sq kilometre area. Complaints which fall outside those areas are dealt with telephonically wherever possible.
We have a complement of five qualified Inspectors, which sounds very grand, but all of us double up by doing at least two jobs!!
The type of problems covered are as follows:
We have made great inroads into the elimination of illegal slaughter, and the cruel method of the transportation of horses to both legal and illegal slaughter establishments. Routine inspections are carried out at registered abattoirs to monitor the slaughter of horses, and we are constantly investigating illegal/bush slaughter. We have closed down the majority of these establishments, but often the same ruthless individuals, once caught, relocate and set up again.
We have put much work into the problems faced by security horses in South Africa. Our plea’s for financial assistance to the companies utilizing the horses have gone unheard, and the Unit finds the means for one of our Inspectors to inspect and monitor every horse used for railway security patrols once a month – between 400-500!
When the security horse industry first started up, it seemed as if the cruelty was never-ending. We tried to address the problem by writing a ‘minimum criteria for horses used for security purposes’, which was adopted and put into the contract by one of the larger companies utilising these animals to patrol railway lines. Over the years as the security companies have gained experience, the situation is much improved although problems are still found – saddle sores, underweight horses, or unacceptable living conditions being the most common.
We recently encountered serious problems with the welfare of horses at a security company which was awarded a contract on the East Rand. The company had no experience with horses whatsoever and despite giving education and assistance, we had no option but to eventually confiscate the animals. One of the horses, a thoroughbred mare, was immediately euthanased on humane grounds by our Veterinary Surgeon Dr Dale Wheeler.
RIDING SCHOOLS AND STUD FARMS:
We inspect and if necessary monitor problems at the above.
THOROUGHBREDS OUT OF RACING:
We are getting increasing support from many of the racehorse trainers – one of the ways which we can help is by responsibly re-homing horses off the track, and monitoring them once they have been placed.
This was, in the early years, a huge problem, and many inspectorate hours were spent in monitoring the welfare of these animals. By and large this practice has been chased out of Gauteng, although some races are still being held in the Northern Province and Kwa Kwa.
We receive many complaints of horses being neglected or mistreated every month, and we respond as quickly as we can.
We always try to be helpful and advise and educate people – only if there is malicious cruelty, no improvement in the horse’s situation or no cooperation from the owner will cause the matter to be taken further.